Riding on the back of strong sales since the start of 2010, which just happens to be up 16 percent on the same period last year, Mercedes-Benz is now laying the groundwork for further growth with a new model offensive that will comprise some 16 new or upgraded models during the rest of this year and the next.

With the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, the B-Class F-Cell and the A-Class E-Cell, the new model launches include a total of three production vehicles with alternative drives promising zero-emission motoring.

However, before any of these alternative vehicles arrive, Mercedes-Benz will be launching a new generation of V-6 and V-8 gasoline powerplants. Dubbed BlueDIRECT, the engines utilize direct injection and turbocharging to consume 24 percent less fuel than their predecessors. These will make their European debut in the fall along with a new engine stop-start feature on select models. No word yet on any U.S. release dates.

The story doesn’t end there as these product and technology innovations will also be supported by a wide-ranging communications offensive, the focal point being a new brand claim: “The best or nothing”--the belief of the automaker’s founding father Gottlieb Daimler. The brand campaign begins this week and will run in print, TV and online channels.

[Mercedes-Benz]